I know, I know. So many people all talking about Ferguson. I even made a joke that today 50 million bloggers would be posting, telling us all how to think about Ferguson (and I would, probably, be one of the 50 million).
I really wrestled with posting on the issue (obviously I caved). But part of me really dislikes being told I can’t do something, and there was an overwhelming feeling on social media today that white commentators should just be quiet and listen rather than speaking.
I understand the sentiment behind that feeling and I agree that we SHOULD be listening to the stories of other people. Still, asking me not to speak because of the color of my skin is ALSO racist. My skin color doesn’t affect my brain or my spirituality. If pastors were not allowed to speak on issues they had no direct involvement in then we could never preach on a lot of topics. Never having been married to more than one woman I could speak on polygamy. Having never been divorced I couldn’t speak to the biblical view on divorce. You get the point? We speak on the biblical perspective on things even when we don’t have direct experience because we don’t preach our experiences – we preach God’s revelation. That means we can speak to any issue when we come at it from a biblical perspective.
Ferguson and race-relations is no different. I won’t speak to the legal and justice issues, because I’m not a lawyer. I will speak to the idea of biblical behavior, since the Bible is what I know.
We’re all getting it wrong. There seems to be (I’m going to use the word overwhelming again for the second time in a single post) OVERWHELMING feeling that the riots are justified behavior. They are not – at least not from a biblical point of view.
The Bible calls us to exemplary behavior, even when we are mistreated by harsh and unfair people. There is no Christian justification for the Ferguson riots. Before you accuse me of being racist, please note that I also feel that white people were not biblically justified in violent revolution against England (a position I know MANY disagree with).
There is never biblical justification for violent and riotous behavior in order to bring social change. The supreme example of this is Jesus, who never participated in such behavior. When Peter was ready to riot and drew his sword, cutting off a man’s ear, Jesus told him to simmer down.
There is no biblical excuse for the riots in Ferguson.
But the rioters aren’t the only ones getting it wrong. Many of us watching and responding are also getting it wrong. Instead of reacting with compassion and trying to understand the anger and the hurt driving the riots, many get defensive and are content simply to point fingers at bad behavior.
But we need to do better. From a biblical point of view, we are called to care for the outsider, the alien, and the disenfranchised (this is actually an Old Testament AND New Testament concept). Pointing fingers at bad behavior without trying to understand what is motivating the behavior is not seeking to care for the disenfranchised. When the disenfranchised try to tell those in power, “This isn’t right!” the correct response is not, “Sit down and behave!” The correct response is, “Let me help you pursue justice and righteousness.”
This does NOT excuse the riotous behavior. It is simply to say we must do better at caring for those who are not feeling justice being done to them.
There is no easy road forward. There is a lot of anger on both sides that prevents the black and white communities from having real conversations with each other. But God calls us to pursue peace – to be peacemakers. A pastor friend of mine once told me, “The peace that Jesus brought was a costly peace. The peace that He calls US to bring is going to have to cost us, too.”
Until we’re willing to pay that cost and REALLY pursue peace and justice, the conflict will never go away.Follow @chrislinzey
I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback, so feel free to respond. Just keep it polite and your comments won’t be deleted. 😉
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20 Replies to “Just One More White Man Commenting on Ferguson”
“There is never biblical justification for violent and riotous behavior in order to bring social change. The supreme example of this is Jesus, who never participated in such behavior.”
So the “scourging of the temple” wasn’t violent or riotous? Jesus whipped people, dumped their cash tills, and trashed their businesses in an act that the temple authorities surely considered to be an act of violent rebellion.
“And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables” – John 2:15.
He also had true authority over the temple and was the one who every single element of the temple foreshadowed. I don’t think its a fair analogy.
It’s not an analogy, Ryan; it’s an example. Chris said Jesus never exhibited violent or riotous behavior; the Bible says otherwise.
Actually I didn’t say that. I said the Bible doesn’t condone violent and riotous behavior to affect social change. Jesus clearing the temple is not a model for Christian behavior when we’re upset with something. Jesus acted with authority as the Son of God in the House of God. Not the same thing as what we’re talking about here and now.
Chris, I’m with you on this. Thank you for posting biblically, compassionately, and reasonably (the latter two of which should inherently be part of “biblically,” I think), as usual.
i think that what whatever your opinion of the shooting- the best way to show that black lives matter is to find some kids in a terrible family situation (and they are everywhere) and commit to showing them the love of Christ through a long term relationship.
That’s not a bad idea, but that would require effort and move me outside my Christian comfort zone. 🙂
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Your understanding of the Revolutionary War is a bit lacking. The Americans did not violently rebel. They merely (and peacefully) declared independence. The British violently attacked in response. The Americans then defended themselves and their families, as God would have wanted them to. This is a common misunderstanding and why people don’t see the difference between the Revolutionary War and the French Revolution.
My understanding of the Revolutionary War is not lacking – the colonists DID rebel. It started with destruction of property at the Boston Tea Party. It escalated and ended in armed conflict. They never needed to pick up weapons to shoot at British soldiers. I think you need to re-read history books…
Wow, I hit a nerve. If you’re unwilling to consider the facts, then I see no further need for me to comment. If, on the other hand, you are willing to re-think your misunderstanding of the Revolutionary War… the Boston Tea Party was a political protest. The Revolutionary War did not begin UNTIL the American leaders peacefully declared independence. Sure, they didn’t have to pick up weapons, just like when someone breaks into a family’s house, the father doesn’t need to pick up a weapon to defend his family.
No, you hit no nerve. I’m just surprised by historical ignorance. Destruction of property is not merely protesting. Americans did not simply “declare independence” but backed up that declaration with firepower. They didn’t need to fight – if the British had behaved in an un-Christian manner then the Christian colonists should have backed down, not stepped up to fight. Your analogy to a home invasion is not apropos.
Your Biblical ignorance is more surprising to me. Defense of life and liberty are Biblical concepts, supported throughout Scripture. The British defied THEIR OWN LAWS. The Americans merely held them up to their own standard and said “Sorry, we’re not falling for it anymore. We’re going to set up good laws and then follow them.”
I am not biblically ignorant. The Bible does NOT give permission to defend liberty. In fact, the Bible tells people to submit even to harsh and cruel masters. You need to read the Bible without the lens of your patriotism.
This offers some good points on the matter: http://www.gotquestions.org/American-Revolution-Romans-13.html
I saw this earlier, something Lecrae posted and thought it was very powerful and relevant to your thoughts:
“Sometimes I wonder how we get so up in arms and culturally empathetic with people in other countries. But can’t do that in our own backyard. We rushed to Haiti. We adopt in Asia. We empathize with Africa. But struggle to humanize our struggles here in the states. Some people are responding out of hurt and are met with smug responses. If I tell you my brother got killed in a gang war, would you tell me “That’s what he gets! Shouldn’t be gang banging!” Of course not.”
“As a Christian, I see a Jesus who empathizes with the MOST undeserving people ever. He offers a thief on the cross a home in Paradise. He dies for a rioting mob of angry killers. He looks upon a sinful world with compassion. And here we stand saying we believe that and all the while unfazed at the pain of a community. Offering statements that don’t comfort but only add salt to a wound we refuse to see. It’s hurtful. I don’t want anything to do with that kind of “Churchianity”…”
Chris, simplistic and one-dimensional answers won’t work for either side of this debate. To wit, the stranger and disenfranchised are welcome, but if they don’t assimilate and contribute, they are to be deported (that is both OT and NT). I think a more wholistic biblical solution needs to include shalom at home-clan-tribe-and national civil orders.
Since the context is the Ferguson situation am I to assume you’re saying the black community hasn’t assimilated or contributed? o.O
Oh my. You defined the context and “I assume” (?) you have already said the black community are strangers and sojourners in Ferguson??????? Again, generalized assumptions and all-or-nothing thinking is flawed.
I said nothing about the black community being sojourners in Ferguson. I have no idea what you’re talking about.